This study examines the politics of jazz education and the implications of canon forming, and proposes a critical methodology that opens up the field of study to broader cultural analysis. In this context, I discuss the unique problems faced by jazz education and suggest that these issues are inherently linked to the nature of the music itself. I focus on three areas of significance, which feed off opposing positions in jazz: the ‘value’ of jazz education, geographical divides, and the perceived difference between jazz practice and social theory. My examination of the difficult social and cultural space occupied by education highlights the potential for educational methodologies to disrupt dominant ideologies, and to uncover related cultural myths. I conclude with a case study to suggest how these methodologies might usefully be employed.